On Monday, August 27, 2018, the Financial Times published a story where the United States President, Donald Trump was alleged to have described Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari as “lifeless”.
While the US president renowned for speaking out of turn may just have said what many Nigerians have been saying all along, it’s hard to argue that Trump made no such description, even though one won’t be surprised if he later denies it. Yet again, a position we have become accustomed to.
It is common knowledge that Donald Trump is one who speaks or tweets whatever comes to his mind, as he has proven to be someone who does not understand or think about being politically correct; he just says things as he feels.
On the other hand, beyond Trump’s description of Buhari as lifeless, we cannot be pretentious about the fact that the Nigerian president has displayed traits synonymous with lifelessness. For instance, Buhari’s hardline stance on foreign exchange is believed to be one of the reasons the country was plunged into a needless recession. He refused to be proactive on the forex issue and acted when everything was almost crashing on our heads. Nigerian students studying abroad were stranded as they were unable to access funds for their fees, medicals, accommodations, etc, on time.
The president battled with a serious health challenge and till date is yet to reveal the nature of the illness that plagued him and confined him to the United Kingdom for 103 days.
Buhari’s “lifelessness” is so glaring that many things in the country are void of breath. The presidency has allowed Nigerians in their thousands to be killed by armed bandits and herdsmen, while the perpetrators and sponsors of these crimes have not been brought to book, just like the “technically” defeated terrorist sect, Boko Haram on February 19, 2018, abducted 110 schoolgirls from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College (GGSTC), Dapchi, Yobe, in a fashion similar to the April 14, 2014, abduction of 273 girls from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno.
Furthermore, by Buhari’s outward display and posture of fighting against corruption, he has however condoned same in his administration. It took him six months to act decisively on the allegations of corruption levelled against the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal who reportedly diverted funds meant for the upkeep of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North East. So brazen was Lawal’s response that when asked by a reporter if he had heard the news of his sack, he retorted, “Who is the presidency?”
This is the kind of lifeless presidency Buhari runs. His appointees have on many occasions gone against his directives without consequence. Ibrahim Idris, the Inspector General of Police disobeyed an order to relocate to Benue at the height of the wanton killing of farmers and villagers by herdsmen and the president did nothing. In fact, Buhari admitted publicly that he had no idea that his directive was flouted.
Today makes it 51 days now that Premium Times an online news medium reported that Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s Finance Minister allegedly forged her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate. There has been no word from the Minister nor the President. It has been business as usual. Buhari’s silence on the alleged forgery is symptomatic of his person. He has failed to address allegations and complaints against members of his cabinet. In his over three years as president, Buhari has refused to change the service chiefs but chose to rather extend their stay in the military, despite the fact that the war against Boko Haram is far from being won and there is a need for another approach.
It appears that anytime Buhari is away from the country on vacation and transfers presidential powers to his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, things move at a speedy pace. In a space of 10 days as president, Osinbajo removed Lawal Daura as the Director General of the Department of State Services and also ordered an overhaul of the activities of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Police.
Donald Trump may have called Buhari lifeless but with his 800-metre walk has he convinced us otherwise?